Rock and a Hard Place (excerpt)

Rock and a Hard Place (2006, 23 minutes, DV and VHS video, stereo)
Assembled, directed, and edited by Joshua Thorson
Music by Nick Hallett, Sara Marcus, and Joshua Thorson
With Kevin McGarry, Dale Hoyt, Jill Zimmerman, and Pat Palermo

Premiered at Rotterdam International Film Festival, 2006.

"JT Leroy was not the first of his kind. Anthony Godby Johnson was a thirteen-year-old boy who was
reportedly severely abused and used as a sex slave by his parents and their friends, becoming infected 
with HIV in the process. He wrote a memoir, A Rock and a Hard Place , which detailed his miserable family 
life, his escape and learning to love again, and his battle with AIDS. Like JT, Tony also sought free therapy 
and editorial advice from established gay writers - in Tony's case, Armistead Maupin, who fictionalized his 
own experience into The Night Listener . In fact, the woman claiming to be his adopted mother had invented 
Tony, and the ruse was kept going by a coterie of conspirators who felt that America needed a Tony to 
believe in: he was the product of pure faith. Through its collage of voices and images that never fully 
add up to a complete picture, Joshua Thorson's portrayal of the case (also called A Rock and a Hard 
Place) perfectly captures how any potential real boy that may have existed becomes clouded in an 
impenetrable miasma of desires and projections."  
— Jon Davies, "Bad Boys: What JT Leroy Knew About Being Fucked Up," March 2007.

The script for Rock and a Hard Place was done as a research-based cup-up piece, with fragments 
taken from Newsweek articles, Oprah specials, a piece in the New Yorker, and an Armistead Maupin novel, all 
relating to the phenomenon that was Anthony Godby Johnson. The actors read the fragments directly from the 
pastiche script in front of them, a gesture formally mirroring the main thematic issue of the believability of the 
characters' written and spoken words.